October 31, 2014

Chad “Chief” Cordero returns to D.C. area for youth baseball camp

FORMER NATIONALS ALL-STAR CLOSER TO THROW OUT FIRST PITCH AT NATS PARK JULY 20

Many fans of the Washington Nationals feel like they never got a chance to say “goodbye” to Chad Cordero, the very popular All-Star closer during the first few seasons of the team in D.C.  Unceremoniously non-tendered by former GM Jim Bowden following the 2008 season after a year of injury, Cordero simply vanished from the roster in an adminstrative transaction, embarrassingly announced on sports talk radio by Bowden himself.

After three seasons of surgery, rehab and return to the Major Leagues for a brief stint in 2010 with the Seattle Mariners, Cordero was eventually forced to walk away from the game he so loves before his 30th birthday, retiring from baseball last June.

But now, Nats fans will finally get their chance to shower Cordero with the affection they still cling to for the flat-brimmed reliever.

Cordero will return to the area in July to participate in a celebrity baseball camp, sponsored by the Bethesda Big Train, the wooden bat summer college league team that plays at Povich Field in Cabin John Regional Park.

In addition, a source has confirmed that Cordero has been asked by the Washington Nationals to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park on Friday, July 20, 2012 before the Nats take on the Atlanta Braves.

“I’m excited about it. I can’t wait. I’m a little nervous,” Chad Cordero said when getting the news. “My wife is so excited. I’m most excited about getting to do it with my kids at the game and have them see me be able to do that so I can’t wait for that.”

Will he stride to the mound to the strains of the familiar “King Nothing” by Metallica?  The song is still one of Cordero’s favorites and was blasting it in his wife’s car just the other day. ” I don’t know why I like it so much, I think it is the intro. That song along with the flat-brim hopefully made it a little intimidating.”  If you were a fan of the team in those first few years, seeing Cordero on the hill one more time will be a treat no one will want to miss.

The Chief pitching at RFK, 10/02/2005 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

We originally caught up with Chad Cordero back in February to discuss his return to D.C. this summer to work with the baseball camp at Big Train.  He was planning to attend at least two Nationals games while in D.C. and we even talked about the idea of a “Hail to the Chief” day.  His appearance at Nats Park will be a nice tribute to a popular player that never got a proper send-off, but Cordero is really looking forward to working with the youngsters at the camp.

When Cordero was approached with the opportunity to return to D.C. to participate in the celebrity baseball camp at Big Train in Bethesda, he was completely on board.  “There was no way I was going to pass this up,” he explained.  “I wanted to come back to DC, had great times there.”  He was involved in community service during his time in D.C. “I tried to do as much as I could while I was playing there.”

The Big Train summer baseball camps are for players 5-13 years old (up to 16 for the camp with Cordero) and all skill levels are welcome. The celebrity camp with Cordero is July 16-20. See the website for camp details.

Bethesda Big Train Baseball welcomed new General Manager Adam Dantus in the offseason. Dantus is looking forward to their first celebrity camp this summer. “We’re extremely excited to be working with Chad this summer,” he said. “Chad will be working hands on with campers teaching the fundamentals of baseball to our younger players while also helping advance skills to our more advanced players. We’re delighted that our fans will get the opportunity to work with a player of Chad’s caliber.”

Cordero is looking forward to working with the young ball players. “I love teaching kids and helping them get better.” He enjoys coaching and is currently a baseball coach for a high school in California. “I would love to coach my college one day [California State Fullerton]. That would be my dream job.”

Chad Cordero and his trademark grin and flat-brim hat, Nationals Park 2008 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

It is hard to believe that the Washington Nationals are approaching their eighth season since moving to the District from Montreal in 2005.  The roster has been ever-changing (with a few exceptions), but Nats fans became attached to a few players in their brief history. Former Nationals closer Chad “The Chief” Cordero is one of those beloved players.

Cordero represented the Nationals at the All-Star game in 2005, along with teammate Livan Hernandez, and lead the Major Leagues with 47 saves that season and remained pretty much unstoppable until his labrum tear in 2008. Chief rehabbed in 2009, signed with the Seattle Mariners and spent about a month in the bigs in 2010. The Mariners released him and he bounced around a bit, but didn’t pitch in major leagues after 2010. Cordero announced his retirement in June 2011.

But is Chad Cordero really done pitching? He doesn’t think so. 

In Part 2 of District Sports Page’s exclusive interview with Cordero, he talks about his future plans in baseball, joining Twitter, his offseason activities, thoughts on the Nats recent moves, and much more.  We can tell you three primary things we learned from our conversations with Chad: He’s a family man. He’s a Nationals fan. And he loves D.C. and is excited to return.

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

About Cheryl Nichols

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events since 2006. Cheryl has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Comments

  1. Andrew Lang says:

    Great article! Thanks for all the support for Chad, Big Train, and DC Elite Baseball!

  2. Seth Goldberg says:

    I agree – great article. My six year old son attended the camp today. Chad is a class act and was truly out to teach the kids. Thanks Chad and Big Train.

  3. Paul McLane says:

    We miss you Chief! Good memories in RFK!

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